A loud middle-aged man with a clipboard was stopping pedestrians on Salt Lake’s Main Street to take a survey.
When he asked if I was an American citizen, I said, “Yes.”
When he asked if I was a Mormon, I said, “Yes.”
Then he asked, “Which is more important? America or the Mormon Church?”
His tone was so belligerent that I sensed a trap – but I didn’t know which it would be. If I said “America,” would I be told that Mormons didn’t really believe in God because I honored my country more? If I said “The Church,” would I be told that no Mormon was qualified for public office because we’d all do what the Church told us instead of upholding the Constitution? I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but I suspected I couldn’t win no matter which I chose.
So I didn’t choose. I said, “When my mother died, a military honor guard attended her graveside service because she was a veteran of World War II. I didn’t know how tight a schedule the honor guard had, so I asked the captain if he needed to do the flag-folding ritual and the rifle salute first, or could he wait until we had dedicated the grave? He snapped to attention and said, ‘God before country, ma’am!’
“So was the soldier right?” I asked the survey-taker. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, but he couldn’t answer. I smiled and moved on.